EVGA GeForce GTS 450 FTW

The second card in our roundup is EVGA’s GeForce GTS 450 FTW. FTW is EVGA’s 3rd and highest factory overclocking tier, placing it among the fastest cards the company sells. For the GTS 450 FTW, the card ships at 920MHz core and 1026MHz memory (4104MHz effective), representing a 137MHz (17%) core overclock and a 124MHz (13%) memory overclock. Notably this means that EVGA is shipping the card at a memory clockspeed above 4GHz, which is what the Samsung RAM on the card is rated for.

As we alluded to earlier, we’ve had some trouble with this card. The card we ended up reviewing was in fact our second card – our first card was a pre-production sample that failed FurMark testing at the factory overclock. Our second card was a proper retail sample that went through the usual QA process and behaved properly at factory overclock speeds, however it was also the sample with the slight PCB warping that we mentioned earlier. Currently EVGA has put a hold on these cards pending an investigation, but we believe the hold is only temporary as we do not believe the PCB warping is severe enough to cause any issues with the card.

EVGA is one of NVIDIA’s closest partners, so it’s very common to see them launching cards using a straight reference design. The GTS 450 FTW is no exception – the only thing non-reference about it is its clockspeeds. As a result it has all the benefits and downsides of the NVIDIA reference design – the same 8.5” length, the same components, and the same cooling - and in practice it’s only distinguishable by its higher performance and its greater temperatures and power draw that come as a result of its factory overclock.

Since EVGA isn’t looking to differentiate itself from the reference design on its hardware, their key selling points lie in the overclock and then the software.  For the software side of things the FTW comes with EVGA’s two homegrown software utilities: EVGA Precision, and the EVGA Overclock Scanner.

EVGA Precision is a freely released overclocking utility based on the classic overclocking utility RivaTuner. As with RivaTuner before it, EVGA Precision is a simplified overclocking utility designed to allow easy overclocking and monitoring of a card, and supports a wide variety of cards including non-EVGA cards. It also includes support for overclocking profiles and an on-screen-display overlay for use in games.

For the version the GTS 450, EVGA is defaulting to a minor redress of the circular skin we saw with the GTX 460. Unfortunately this continues to be one of the worse skins the utility ships with – if you’re more a fan of the KISS principle, we’d strongly suggest using one of a number of other skins included with the utility to give the utility a more orthogonal layout.

Nitpicking about skinning aside, EVGA Precision currently sets the gold standard for an overclocking utility along with MSI’s RivaTuner-derived Afterburner software. Precision is easy to use, light on resources, and in our experience we have never encountered any notable bugs with the utility. It has the features most users should need without going overboard and getting bloated with useless features. We would however like to see them take a page out of MSI’s book and add overvolting support, even if it’s in an unofficial capacity. The FTW already ships with a fairly high voltage, but there’s still a decent amount of headroom left in the card for overclocking if you can give it more power; and the GF106 GPU is cool enough that the cooler doesn’t have an issue keeping up.

EVGA’s second overclocking utility is the EVGA Overclock Scanner, which we have had the chance to watch evolve throughout the year. In a nutshell, the OC Scanner is a load-generating utility (ala Furmark) which rather than generating a moving image generates a static image. By generating a static image it’s possible for the software to identify any rendering errors in the image that would be indicative of a bad overclock. Or in other words, if you’ve overclocked your card too far, this utility will let you know. Unlike EVGA Precision however, this utility is only for EVGA card owners, specifically owners of GTX/GTS 400 series cards.

In our experience with the utility it’s fairly – but not perfectly – accurate. As we mentioned earlier we had our pre-release card fail Furmark, while the EVGA OC Scanner would pass it. We’ve also had this occur in the past when overclocking. Furmark is by design a pathological case so we won’t make any claims about the realism of the load, but it means the EVGA OC Scanner can miss something now and then. Anything it passes should be safe for gaming, but we would probably knock 10MHz off just to be safe.

Rounding out the package is the obligatory quick start manual, a molex to PCIe power adaptor, a driver/utility CD, and a DVI-to-VGA dongle.

Unfortunately EVGA is not offering a lifetime warranty version of the card, so the FTW comes with their standard 2-year warranty. Meanwhile EVGA has priced the card at $149, a $20 premium over a reference card.

Asus ENGTS450 Top Palit GeForce GTS 450 Sonic Platinum
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  • gwolfman - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    When do we get our first single slot Fermi? I'd like one to offload my PhysX. Any ideas? Reply
  • Slash3 - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    Looks like an error on the first page's chart, the memory clock box for the reference card should be at a 3.6GHz data rate and not 4.6GHz, correct? Reply
  • anactoraaron - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    And their responce to the bending issue is why they are just the best to work with (and buy from) for anything - including RMA's. They are first in that category (customer service) hands down. Over the course of 7 years, I have had to RMA something (at least one item) to ASUS, HIS (the worst by far), Gigabyte and EVGA. EVGA FTW! Reply
  • Voldenuit - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link

    Warping, like all of life's problems, is just a special case of bending. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    You guys should simulate 2-3 months of heavy dust collecting inside a PC case. Then run the furmark power consumption and heat tests. Then you might understand why people want a card like the Calibre X450G. Reply
  • HangFire - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    2-3 months does not make for heavy dust in any of my PC cases. 2-3 years would, but none run that long before getting cleaned out.

    The real market for the Calibre would be the silent PC crowd, who would otherwise pay extra for an Accelero (or other aftermarket GPU cooler), and would be happy to pay a smaller premium for a pre-installed cooler- and keep their warranty too.
    Reply
  • tech6 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Since you can get a 5770 from NewEgg for $125 (with rebate) and GTX460 for $170, I don't see why any of these cards make much sense unless they will be heavily discounted. Reply
  • JPForums - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    <quote>Since you can get a 5770 from NewEgg for $125 (with rebate) and GTX460 for $170, I don't see why any of these cards make much sense unless they will be heavily discounted. </quote>

    At $130 straight up these GTS450s make plenty of sense (especially if you don't want to deal with the sometimes less than reliable rebate system). They may not be quite as good a value as a $125 HD5770, but they are still a good buy. (particularly if you require an nVidia card) Of course, a GTX460 will net you a healthy performance boost for an equally healthy price bump.
    Reply
  • Spazweasel - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    They still do. Look in the part number. If it ends in "AR" it's lifetime warranty, if it's "TR" the warrant is (I think) 2 years. The price difference is generally 10 to 20 dollars, depending upon the base price of the part. Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - link

    Id rather have a gtx470 super overclock from gigabyte. yeah its twice the price but its more than twice the speed. The gigabyte 470 soc out performs a gtx480 but costs 100 bucks less. So why go out and have to buy 2 450's to get halfway decent performance when you could buy 1 470 and spend the same amount?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply

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